Tech 2000

And Smaller Still . . .

Can't imagine carrying around a computer in your pocket? It's time to stretch your imagination. Experts predict Windows CE and Palm OS-based handhelds and PDAs will become ubiquitous small-business tools in the coming months, thanks to their strong performance, myriad new features and attractive price tags.

Expect a number of new manufacturers, including IBM and Microsoft, to enter the handheld PC and palmtop market by year-end, Enderle says. In the coming months, these little organizers will only improve in terms of their battery life, performance and price. Color displays will also become increasingly available.

However, keep in mind you'll sacrifice battery performance to live in the land of color. Current models sporting color screens include the Compaq Aero 2100 (http://www.compaq.com) and the Hewlett-Packard Jornada 420 (http://www.hp.com).

Increased functionality and improvements in design are making handhelds and PDAs a real hit on the business front. "Executives love these devices," Enderle marvels. "They have a longer battery life than laptops, they're cheaper and they're sturdier."

A handheld PC may become your best friend, but keep in mind that, like notebook computers, these are secondary devices, and you'll likely need more computing power to handle your general business tasks. Enderle says using a desktop computer as an adjunct to your PDA is quite possibly the best solution--even better than the desktop/laptop combination.

"These [two solutions] may be more reliable [than laptops] and offer better performance for the price," Enderle says. "Plus, they're extremely portable devices. These facts provide a more compelling argument for business users to look at them in the coming year."

Of course, the decision is yours; if you're still using the standard desktop computer and full-featured notebook, these may very well be the best solutions for you. But considering the abundance of options and improvements available, it's worth your time and effort to investigate some of the new flat-panel monitors, handhelds, palm tops and mininotebooks breaking onto the scene in 2000. You could be surprised by what they have to offer.

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Tech 2000.

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